SAD asks Centre why it refused permission to pilgrims for Nankana Sahib

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Chandigarh, Feb 21 (PTI) SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday asked the Centre to explain why it refused permission to a group of pilgrims to visit Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and dubbed this move 'akin to an attack on the community'.

The Shiromani Akali Dal chief also asked Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh why he did not raise the issue of denial of permission with the central government.

A group of pilgrims led by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh was to travel to Pakistan from February 18 to February 25 to mark the centenary of Nankana Sahib massacre.

However, the Union Home Ministry denied permission to the 600 Sikhs, who intended to visit gurdwaras in Pakistan, citing security and COVID-19 situation in that country.

Sukhbir Badal on Sunday attended a centenary function organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) at Gurdwara Lachhman Singh Dharowali at Godharpura in Gurdaspur district and paid tributes to the martyrs of Nankana Sahib massacre.

'The government should explain why one day prior to the visit, it denied permission to the Jatha, which was to be led by Sri Akal Takth Sahib Jathedar. Punjab CM @capt_amarinder must also explain why he had not taken up the issue of need to accord permission to the Jatha with the Centre,' Sukhbir said in a tweet.

'Government of India's decision to deny permission to Sikh Jatha to visit Sri #NankanaSahib to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Sikhs during the Gurdwara Reform Movement is akin to an attack on the community,' he said in another tweet.

The SGPC on Sunday observed the first centenary of massacre that took place 100 years ago to liberate Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, from 'mahants.' Several Sikhs were massacred on February 20, 1921 at Gurdwara Janam Asthan at Nankana Sahib by 'mahant' and his mercenaries. Addressing the gathering, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh flayed the Centre's move of denying permission to a group of pilgrims going to Pakistan.

He further said the central government refused permission for going to Nankana Sahib as it wanted Sikhs to withdraw from the ongoing farmers' agitation against the new farm laws.

'We today want to ask Government of India why it has stopped our 'jatha' and what do you want from us. I have come to know that the government wants Sikhs to return from farmers' agitation. But it will never happen. Sikhs are contributing to 'kisan andolan' and they will continue to do so no matter even if Centre stops 'jathas' every year,' said the Akal Takht Jathedar in his address.

The 'bhog' of Akhand Path Sahib (continuous recitation of religious hymns) was held at Gurdwara Shaheed Bhai Lachhman Singh Dharowali before the commencement of the grand religious event organised to remember the martyrs.

This decision of the Centre had drawn sharp reactions from the Sikh community.

The SGPC president had even written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, and said that the government's decision had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh 'sangat' (community)'. PTI CHS SUN AAR AAR